Spotted Green Puffer

Green Spotted Puffer, Spotted Puffer Fish

Family: Tetraodontidae Spotted Green Puffer, Tetraodon nigroviridis, Green Spotted Puffer, Spotted Puffer FishTetraodon nigroviridisPhoto © Animal-World: Courtesy David Brough
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I am a beginner to the world of fish, and I think I know what I am doing, but want it to be verified. Here's my setup: 30 gal tank with 2 Sunburst Mollies and 2... (more)  Anonymous

The Spotted Green Puffer is a very popular attraction and the most commonly available freshwater puffer fish!

The Spotted Green Puffer Tetraodon nigroviridis is a pretty puffer fish. Although it can get rather large, reaching over 6 1/2 inches (17 cm), its name is a perfect description. It has a beautiful rich green coloration on top with dark spots and a whitish belly. It is commonly called the Green Spotted Puffer, or simply the Spotted Puffer as well.

This Green Spotted Puffer is an adorable fish. The pug-like face with slightly bulging eyes and petite little mouth give it a cute peevish expression. It is very playful, active, and curious making it a joy to watch. It has a great personality as well. It will come to recognize its owner, getting excited when it sees you. It will quickly steal your heart, yet this is not an easy fish to keep as it has very specialized requirements for its care.

As the Green Spotted Puffer matures its needs change, so it is recommended for a more advanced aquarist. A juvenile can be kept in freshwater for a time, but they will quickly need a highly brackish environment to survive. They also have fast growing teeth which are prone to becoming overgrown. They requiring a continuous diet of hard shelled live food often to keep the teeth worn down. Being scaleless, puffer fish are more prone to disease.

This puffer will do well if kept singly as it can be an aggressive fin-nipper. It can be kept with others of its own kind as well as other species, but as with most puffer fish, they are very territorial and need their own space. Be certain that for a community setting you choose large non-aggressive tank mates and a good sized aquarium. Provide plants and rockwork arranged in such a way that they break the line of sight and offer hiding places, but still provide open areas swimming.

The natural habitat of this fish is in fresh to brackish waters. You can see on the distribution map below where it has been discovered. Like most brackish water fish, it can be acclimated to a full saltwater environment. Some hobbyists believe this is the best environment for it as it matures.

It is important that you distinguish which pufferfish you are purchasing as their water requirements vary considerably. The Spotted Green Puffer Tetraodon nigroviridis is often confused with its close relatives the Green Puffer or Ceylon Puffer Tetraodon fluviatilis, as well as the Freshwater Spotted Puffer Tetraodon schoutedeni.

All three are spotted and have very similar coloration, but the Spotted Green Puffer has a more rounded ball shaped body while the Green Puffer T. fluviatilis has a more elongated body. These two are readily available in the industry, while the Freshwater Spotted Puffer T. schoutedeni reportedly hasn't been available in the industry for a number of years.

For more Information on keeping this fish see:
Guide to a Happy, Healthy Freshwater Aquarium

Geographic Distribution
Tetraodon nigroviridis
Data provided by
  • Kingdom: Animalia
  • Phylum: Chordata
  • Class: Actinopterygii
  • Order: Tetraodontiformes
  • Family: Tetraodontidae
  • Genus: Tetraodon
  • Species: nigroviridis
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Spotted Green Puffer - Quick Aquarium Care
  • Aquarist Experience Level: Advanced
  • Size of fish - inches: 6.7 inches (17.02 cm)
  • Minimum Tank Size: 20 gal (76 L)
  • Temperament: Aggressive
  • Aquarium Hardiness: Moderately hardy
  • Temperature: 74.0 to 82.0° F (23.3 to 27.8° C)
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Habitat: Distribution / Background

The Spotted Green Puffer Tetraodon nigroviridis was described by Marion de Procé in 1822. They are are found from Africa to Asia, ranging from Sri Lanka to Indonesia and north to China. Other common names they are know by include Green Spotted Puffer, Spotted Puffer, Spotted Green Pufferfish, and Green Spotted Pufferfish.

These puffer fish inhabit freshwater to brackish coastal estuaries; streams, rivers, and flood plains where they are found singly or in small groups. They feed on mollusks, crustaceans, and other invertebrates, as well as some plant matter. They may also eat scales and fins of other fish.

  • Scientific Name: Tetraodon nigroviridis
  • Social Grouping: Groups - In the wild, the Green Spotted Puffer Fish are found singly or in small group.
  • IUCN Red List: NE - Not Evaluated or not listed


The Spotted Green Puffer has a stout rounded body shape with small spines. The face is very cute, having a smallish mouth topped by slightly bulging eyes and a broad forehead . Like many of the pufferfish, the coloring of the Spotted Green Puffer can vary. The adult is a beautiful rich green on top with dark spots and a whitish belly. In juveniles the green is less colorful. They can reach 6.7 inches (17 cm) in length.

Despite pet stores selling them as freshwater fish, these fish live in Brackish water in their natural habitats. In nature they do spend some time in fresh water during the rainy season as they will go in to rain flooded areas as juveniles. As juveniles they can tolerate swimming through areas of freshwater, brackish water to saltwater.

Pufferfish have the ability to 'puff' themselves up with water or air if threatened. When they inflate, their spines protrude outward and this apparently helps keep them from being eaten. Another defense of many puffer species is to produce toxic substances in their flesh that is poisonous if eaten.

  • Size of fish - inches: 6.7 inches (17.02 cm)
  • Lifespan: 15 years - Normally will only obtain this age in brackish or marine tanks.

Fish Keeping Difficulty

These fish are not for everyone. The Green Spotted puffers needs change to their environment as they mature. The juvenile are fairly easy as they are fine in freshwater. As they mature the need for brackish water or marine conditions become necessary. This takes more work and experience to maintain proper salinity. They are scaleless so are prone to more diseases. A fish keeper with Marine fish experience will be able to take care of them most easily.

The Spotted Green Puffer needs more space the most "community" type fish. They require 30 gallons per puffer, and also require bigger filters and more frequent water changes because they are such messy eaters. These puffer fish also have a fast growing teeth that will at one time or another need to be physically clipped. Even with the proper diet in an aquarium setting it is inevitable that you will need to clip their teeth. If you are up for the challenge these guys will make for an exciting and attractive addition to your tank.

  • Aquarium Hardiness: Moderately hardy
  • Aquarist Experience Level: Advanced

Foods and Feeding

The Spotted Green Puffers are omnivores. omnivores, though a large part of their diet is meaty foods. In their natural environment they will eat various invertebrates, crustaceans and mollusks, but they also eat some vegetation.They are not difficult to feed as they will usually eat a variety of flake, frozen, and live foods including shrimp, ghost shrimp (gut-loaded), bloodworms, freeze-dried krill, crabs, brine shrimp, and snails. Adult puffers can also be feed scallops, shelled-shrimp, whole mussels, clams, oyster, crayfish and crab legs.

Puffers have strong teeth that grow throughout their lives, so are prone to overgrown teeth. Offer hard shelled live food often to keep the teeth worn down. Feeding snails daily will help to wear down the teeth. If the teeth get too long, they will be unable to eat, requiring the owner to clip the teeth.

Take caution when feeding your Spotted Green Puffer, these puffers will literally eat them selves to death. Because these fish are predators, they spend most of their time hunting. In a tank they try to eat then same amount without burning off the calories of hunting.

  • Diet Type: Omnivore - In the wild they feed on mollusks, crustaceans, other invertebrates and some plant matter. They may also eat scales and fins of other fish.
  • Flake Food: Occasionally
  • Tablet / Pellet: Occasionally
  • Live foods (fishes, shrimps, worms): Some of Diet
  • Vegetable Food: Some of Diet
  • Meaty Food: Most of Diet
  • Feeding Frequency: Several feedings per day - These puffer fish are constant hunters. Feed small amounts that they can quickly consume, but don't overfeed as these puffers will literally eat them selves to death.

Aquarium Care

Like all puffers the Green spotted puffer is very sensitive to water condition changes. These puffers are often sold as freshwater fish, which they will tolerate only as juveniles. As they mature they really need to be in more of a brackish or marine environment. Like all puffers, they need to be introduced to an established tank.

What ever type of water the puffer is in at purchase, make sure you slowly and properly introduce it to its new environment, normally doing a drip method. If you are starting it in freshwater, try moving it to brackish water before moving it to a marine tank. A generous weekly water change of 30% to 50% is the standard recommendation for a puffer aquarium.

Because of the type of foods and the manner at which they eat, this puffer tends to be very messy and produces a lot of waste. Because of this a large canister filter that turns the tank over at least 6-10 times per hour is needed.

  • Water Changes: Weekly - Water change should be 30-50% weekly.

Aquarium Setup

A 20 gallon aquarium will work well for this puffer, however if you want to keep more than one or some other species with them, a well planted 50 - 60 gallon aquarium is better. Provide plenty of plants and rockwork for retreats as well as open areas for swimming. These puffers are amazing jumpers and require a totally enclosed lid. As juveniles in nature, during the rainy season these puffers will jump from puddle to puddle searching for food and to return to the rivers

The Green Spotted puffer can be a bit difficult to maintain because as they mature, their water condition requirements change. As a juvenile they can tolerate a fresh water environment. As they mature, they require a brackish to a marine environment to thrive in. Juvenile Tetraodon nigroviridis do best with salinity levels at 1.005-1.008 and adults at 1.018-1.022 to insure health and maximized life. Use a marine salt formula. A hydrometer should also be used to monitor the level of salt.

As with all puffers Golden Puffer is extremely sensitive to nitrates and ammonia. They require an alkaline based pH of around 8. To do this without chemical add aragonite or crushed coral to your sand substrate. They have very messy eating habits, therefore, the tank needs large canister filters that turn the tank over 6-10 times per hour. Rotating powerheads are needed to simulate the currents of the rivers they come from. With the right conditions these puffers have be known to live up to 15 years.

If you plan on adding more of these puffers. As with most, they are very territorial and need their own space. It is always good to add a lot of caves, plants with twisted roots, rocks and other decor to break the puffer's line of sight to calm aggression and give territorial boundaries.

  • Minimum Tank Size: 20 gal (76 L) - If you want to keep more than one or some other species as well, then a well planted 50 - 60 gallon aquarium is better.
  • Suitable for Nano Tank: Yes - A Nano tank is fine as long as it meets the size requirements and has proper filtration.
  • Substrate Type: Sand/Gravel Mix - Mix with aragonite or crushed coral to maintain pH at about 8.
  • Lighting Needs: Moderate - normal lighting
  • Temperature: 74.0 to 82.0° F (23.3 to 27.8° C)
  • Range ph: 7.5-8.5
  • Hardness Range: 9 - 19 dGH
  • Brackish: Yes - Juvenile do best with salinity levels at 1.005-1.008 and adults at 1.018-1.022 to insure good health and maximized life.
  • Water Movement: Moderate
  • Water Region: Middle - They will swim in both the middle and lower regions of the aquarium.

Social Behaviors

Like all the pufferfish, the Green Spotted Puffer can vary greatly in temperament from one individual to another. They are generally regarded as aggressive fin-nippers and often kept singly. However they can be kept in a community setting with others of their own species as well as other large non-aggressive species. In a community setting, be sure there is plenty of room and that the aquarium is well planted. It can also have a variety of other decor such as rocks and roots. Place the decor in a manner that breaks their line of site and provides plenty of retreats for all the fish.

If you do try to put a juvenile puffer into you community tank, do not be fooled by its shy and timid behavior. These little guys have a viscous streak in them. It will only be a matter of time before their natural instinct kicks in and you start seeing fish disappearing. Some people have had luck with larger semi-aggressive tank mates but there is no guarantee. Never try to introduce long-finned slow swimming fish as they will be instant targets for your puffer. The Green Spotted Puffer is not considered a shoaling fish but are usually tolerant of their own species. So a mono-species tank is usually best.

  • Venomous: Yes - Puffer fish harbor toxic substances in their flesh, and the Golden Puffer may be venomous if it is consumed.
  • Temperament: Aggressive
  • Compatible with:
    • Same species - conspecifics: Yes - Needs a tank big enough for each to have their own territory as well as plenty of plants and other decor to break their line of sight.
    • Peaceful fish (): Threat
    • Semi-Aggressive (): Monitor
    • Aggressive (): Monitor
    • Large Semi-Aggressive (): Monitor
    • Shrimps, Crabs, Snails: Threat - is aggressive
    • Plants: Safe

Sex: Sexual differences

Sexual differences are unknown.

Breeding / Reproduction

The Spotted Green Puffer fish Has not been bred commercially in captivity, but possibly bred successfully by hobbyists. Research indicates that the female will lay approximately 200 eggs on a smooth, protected surface. They are also known to guard the nest, notably the male.

If you are lucky enough to have purchased a male and a female, captive breeding will be likely to take place. The mortality rate for these fry are extremely high, so without a great deal of experience most of the fry will be lost. The female will find a smooth surface, normally a tight well protect area to lay her clear eggs. The male will protect the eggs until they hatch. It will take around a week before you see the eggs begin to hatch. At the first sign of hatching start feeding the fry young brine shrimp and microworms. As they grow they will start eating small snails.

  • Ease of Breeding: Difficult

Fish Diseases

The Green Spotted Puffer does not have gill covers or scales which make it more prone to disease. Puffers are normally the first fish in a tank to show signs of ick and will twitch and rub around the tank. They respond well to most medication and normally heal quickly. NEVER use copper in a Puffer tank.

Another common issue, though not a disease; Puffer's teeth grow very fast and if not wore down or clipped will lead to overgrowth and starvation. In an aquarium; even when feeding snails and other shelled foods, there is still normally a chance you will have to trim their teeth. This sound much worse then it is. To accomplish this carefully place puffer in a container of water without exposing them to the air. Add 3 drops of clove oil per liter of water; this will temporarily sedate the puffer so you can hold the puffer in your hand more easily. You will need cuticle clippers; use these to clip bottom and top teeth. Once done put puffer in a container or net that will have the current flowing over them. Once awake release back into tank.

Because the Green Spotted Puffer is wild caught it could carry internal parasites. So if it hasn't been done, a de-worming would be smart. For more information about freshwater fish diseases and illnesses, see Aquarium Fish Diseases and Treatments.


The Spotted Green Puffer, also called the Green Spotted or Spotted Puffer Fish, are commonly available from pet stores and online, and are moderately priced.


Author: Clarice Brough CFS, Jeremy Roche
Lastest Animal Stories on Spotted Green Puffer

Anonymous - 2011-04-20
I am a beginner to the world of fish, and I think I know what I am doing, but want it to be verified.

Here's my setup: 30 gal tank with 2 Sunburst Mollies and 2 sunset platies. I have the temp controlled at 72-78 degrees, I have some big rocks (one big enough to provide shelter), and a few plants, as well as a Chinese dragon bubbler.

Here's my question: I added a Green Spotted Puffer to the mix. Is that ok? I went to WalMart, and their fish fact tag says that the puffer will be ok with Mollies. He seems to be swimming around the whole tank, not bothering other fish, but I am worried about it after reading this website. Any suggestions?

Also, you might not be able to help on this, but my male Mollie keeps picking on the female. I was told to expect them to mate, but it looks more like torture and not mating. It could be that I am a beginner (outside that of a Beta) and just do not know what to expect. Any help here would be appreciated as well!

Thanks in advance!

  • Charlie Roche - 2011-04-20
    You can click on the links attached to provide you with more detailed information on the fish you have selected. Just a note to say that it is recommended that if you have other fish with a Pufferfish, you have at least a 50 gallon tank. The puffer fella likes to nip at fins. He is not supposed to be agressive and he is supposed to get along with other fish but you need a larger tank. You need a bit of vegatation there for the fish to hide and play in, whatever. Two mollies mating (movie on U-Tube) looks like the guy is trying to slam her, push her and shove her. Weird to see but it must work. Now maybe yours are fighting so watch the movie and then you'll know for sure. Looks like they were fighting to me too.
  • Anonymous - 2011-04-20
    Hmm. I wasn't told that I would need a 50, but that could be the case. The little guy has been in the tank for about 3 hours now, and he is starting to warm up to it. He swims around a lot, and doesn't seem to bother other fish. He was almost completely grey when I added him, but now his head and some of his body is back to Green. I have a 10 gal that my Beta is currently residing in that I could move him to. I bought some live plants tonight as well, so within a few weeks I should have some more greenery. I currently only have plastic plants, good ole WalMart doesn't say anything about live plants being a necessity.
  • Charlie Roche - 2011-04-21
    Yep, the information says if you just have the puffer, then a 20 gallon tank is fine but if you are adding (or have) other fish, you would need at least a 50 gallon. Puffer fish also need something to wear their teeth down so snails or some such other hard food. The 10 gallon tank is too small for the puffwer, definitely too small if there is another fish in it.
    Did you find the move on Mollies on U-Tube? There is one on just gold fish also. Strange.
    Yes, you need some plants. Have fun and enjoy. Remember all these fish are going to get bigger. The mollies will probably go 4 - 6 inches.
  • Anonymous - 2011-04-21
    Yes. Well, I took Mr Puff to Petco and donated him. I decided that I didn't want to ruin his little life just because I jumped in without surveying the water first. I think once I am out of an apartment and have my bigger tanks I will go get another puffer and try again. Thanks for all your help!

    Oh, random question. How many more fish can/ should I put in this 30 gallon? Currently I have 2 Mollies and 2 Platies. Thanks!
  • Charlie Roche - 2011-04-21
    I am responding to the other email which tells me you took the puffer back. You are asking how many additional fish you can put in a 30 gallon tank with 2 mollies and 2 platies. If you think 1 inch per gallon (just as a rule of thumb) and subtract out for gravel, decorations etc a 30 gallon should leave you with about 27 gallons of swiming area. So the two mollies are 12 inches (as adults) and the two platies are 5 inches (as adults) which equals 17 inches. So you can add two other compatible fish whose adult size is not greater than 5 inches each. OK? Yeah probably best to take back the puffer. Good thinking on your part.
  • Dioafui - 2011-05-09
    You're fine, but the male fish will chase the female to death. You should have at least three females per male, because of his desire to pro-create. I don't know about puffers, but you spelled betta wrong.
  • nic - 2011-08-05
    Here's where you went wrong. NEVER buy fish from Walmart they are cruel to their fish. They all have an illness and are not healthy fish and Walmart does not have any idea how to care for fish. They just want to make money. I had gotten a mollie and it had 50 babies and think first about how big each baby gets. hope this helps.

    p.s get live plants like water sprites
  • brookes - 2013-03-17
    thats not true i bought mine from walmart and it was a little agrisssive at the first 4 days then it got calm it was just scared thats all. all i got to say is love your green spotted puffers. i mean who can't love that little pug face of there'!
  • Merida DunBroch - 2016-01-31
    If the male molly is just chasing the female you have nothing to worry about. It's perfectly normal.
Knife Fish Lover - 2014-11-12
Can a green spotted puffer live with:1 half banded loach,1 silver dollar tetra,2 corydoras cats,1 ocellated synodontis cat,1 BN Pleco,1 yoyo loach,1 male betta (veiltail),and 2 tadpoles?

  • Clarice Brough - 2014-11-13
    I'd say read the social behaviors section for the Spotted Green Puffer on this species page, read about each of those other fish too, and then use your best judgement.
  • MattMal88 - 2015-06-22
    I would not recommend you put a puffer in with your betta. I learned this the hard way when I added a figure 8 puffer into my tank that had a male betta in it and it tore it's fins to shreds which lead to the death of my betta. They are notorious fin nippers and will love the flowing fins of your betta.
Steve Bussard - 2007-02-14
Temperments very greatly with these guys! Most are very subdued and just plain happy go lucky. I have 2 of these guys in my 90 gallon with several other fish, all MILDLY agressive. When first introduced to the tank they nipped at the fins of my angel, but after approximately a week, they left her alone. Some don't stop and do need to be placed in their own tank, but most will do very well in a comunity tank as long as the tank has fish agressive enough to set these little guys straight. Other than that, they are a very cute, fun, friendly, smart, and entertaining fish to care for. I personally would put their temperment in a class similar to an oscar, but of course on a much smaller size scale. I suggest anyone that wants an easy to care for, fun to watch fish, get at least one of these cuties.

  • Sarah Wheeler - 2014-07-23
    Aw that is so cute haha, before when we got a betta, we put him with some goldfish and of course he attacked. We caught him with a nat and held him in the net against the tank wall(no harm done just trappin him for 1 minuete).  everytime he flared we did this and t would spook him a bit. eventully this betta lived with several goldish and other types of fish and didnt bite anymore! We put this to the test with my green spotted puffers witch i was new at. when a puffer bit another puufer or fish we net him for a min. after that the puffers live with minnows (yes still brackish waters) and other fish and dont bite them! the good thing is they still eat live worms and snails but dont hurt any other fish.
  • ryan brown - 2014-12-27
    does anybody know if they can be raised in fresh water for 2 years or so?
  • Clarice Brough - 2014-12-27
    I'm guessing that 2 years in a freshwater tank is not ideal. Although their adult size can be over 6' they can reach maturity when they are just over an inch. This suggests that the juvenile stage, which is the only time they can tolerate freshwater, is a fairly short amount of time. A brackish water tank is not really difficult to provide but the tankmates also have to have some salt tolerance.
Daisy - 2013-03-19
Hello. I have a green spotted puffer fish. I have had him for a year now and he seems to be doing fine! He gets along with my other fish (1 molly and 2 Bumble bee gobies) Could I add another fish? Such as another Goby?

  • Jeremy Roche - 2013-03-19
    Really depends on the attitude of the puffer.
  • Quinlynn - 2013-04-04
    Yeah but I heard that you could put stuff in the water or on the fish to help them heal along with their fins.
  • Quinlynn - 2013-04-04
    Yeah but I heard that you could put stuff in the water or on the fish to help them heal along with their fins.
  • Aaron - 2013-08-11
    They can be in either fresh, salt or brackish water. Just put some salt in the tank with them, it's easy to figure out it alleviates (removes) the stress from the fish. Mine gets along with bumble bee fish too that's in my opinion because they hide and stay low to the ground and blend in, and they are also fast so the puffers can't catch them. Once I hade a puffer with a Black moore (goldfish) they got along great then one day I put a fiddler crab in there. He nipped at the black moore and because of that my puffer killed the crab immediately.
Experienced Fish Owner - 2011-09-04
I am a very experienced Fish owner, Not so much with puffers though.
Can someone please tell me where to get the GSP? Please don't tell me Wal-mart because I am not buying a sick puffer.
Thanks :)

  • Adam - 2011-09-09
    I just got one at Petland, I have gotten fish from them before with good results. I have also gone to Pet Smart...of the ones I got from there, say 10 10 15 over time...only one made it past the 2 week return cycle. I think they have them there too. You might have better luck than I did.
  • Anonymous - 2011-10-03
    I bought my awsome little guy from a pet land he is a happy little healthy guy, just watch them for about a week in the store, and see how they act you will be able to tell if they are worth it! Providing they're not sick they are so worth it! :)
  • Olivia - 2011-10-03
    To be honest I just to my gsp a few days ago but I have bought others from there before and never had a problem. Couple pleco but no sick ones or anything. And my gsp seems to be doing just fine happy and healthy :)
  • jodi - 2011-10-18
    i have bought two GSP from walmart and have yet to have any problems
  • Alex Burleson - 2011-10-18
    Green Spotted Puffers, can be purchased from many online retailers. Large chain pet stores such as PetSmart, and Petco are also known to carry these fish. They are not difficult fish to acquire, so you should not have a difficult time finding one.